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Carers' Lives in 100 Objects - #1

Carers' Lives in 100 Objects - #1

Published on:
December 21, 2023

Margaret  cared for her husband Paul before his death in 2023 just before his 80th birthday. They’d been together 57years.

“Paul actually chose the song for his funeral. He was a very, very quiet unassuming person, and he did as as a bit of fun at the end because nobody would have expected it. Of course, I made it clear it wasn't me. It was a nice way to end the cremation!

We loved Jerry Lee Lewis for years. Forever, really. And when we went to Memphis, we hoped to see him but he wasn't well. We did finally see him on his 80th birthday. And it was a fantastic night. Paul never forgot it. We actually saw Jerry Lee Lewis' sister, who was equally talented. We saw Garth Brooks, Elton John, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. Our age group, of course. We saw Cliff Richard. That wasn't quite Paul's favourite, but I liked him. 

We always loved music and dancing.  We’d met at the Galty More Dance Hall inCricklewood when I was 18. I’d left Ireland when I was 14 to stay with my aunt who ruled the family roost. My Mum and Dad didn’t want me to go but Dad had a brain tumour when he was 23 so it was very difficult for them as I was the eldest of five. By 16 I had a good job in Marks & Spencers. They were very particular. And they weren't happy with our accents, me and a girl from London.  They sent us for a month to finishing school. We hated it, we cried every day. But looking back, it was fantastic, really, but we didn't appreciate it at the time. But no, I would never lose my Irish accent. It was more just knocking the edges off of it, you know. You should never be ashamed of your accent, where you're from. 

Paul and I married two years after we met. We’d chosen a song for the wedding called “21 Years”, an Irish song that was number one in the hit parade. It’s funny because we thought 21 years was a lifetime. We couldn’t imagine a longer time. In the end, we were together for 57 years. We travelled all over to see the performers we loved.  We started off by going to San Francisco and did the 17 Miles trip down to Los Angeles. We took in  all different styles, country included. We went to New Orleans where it was jazz, which Paul loved.

I still play the old records. I think it's good for our mentality, really. To sing along. It makes you happy. I always say to our ladies, because I do voluntary work, put on your music and sing along Because the television can be very draining. The bad news just repeats, and it gets into your brain. But like walking, music rejuvenates you. 

Great Balls Of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis

Paul decided on Great Balls of Fire, when we both did our funeral plans in 2016. We picked hymns for the church and all that. And then he said "I'm going to finish with Great Balls of Fire," because a friend of his had chosen "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. I said, well write it down because I'm not taking the blame for that.

And people really laughed and left on a high. It was a very sad occasion but we all walked out laughing. We were celebrating Paul's love of music, you know? The music is what is what people remember. Paul didn't want people to leave sad. He wanted people to celebrate his life. He said, You know, I've had a very good life. I've enjoyed my life. And even in 2016 He said, If anything happened he'd had a brilliant life.

I feel exactly the same. I've said to my children. If I was to die next next week, don't be sad. I've had a wonderful life.”

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